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The Empire

Rice, Leading AG Field in Money, Goes on TV

Kathleen Rice

Crowley for Congress' Flickr page

Kathleen Rice, getting endorsred by Queens Democratic officials

Kathleen Rice maintains her financial edge in the five-way Democratic primary for Attorney General, as she and another well-funded rival, private attorney Sean Coffey, launched television ads.

Rice, the Nassau County district attorney, ended the 32-day pre-primary filing with $4,424,391.33 on hand, with more than $623,267.47 being raised in this latest filing. She spent about half that amount, or $368,630.06. Among her expenses were $99 at Bergdorf Goodman's, for "clothing for a film shoot," according to records the campaign filed with the State Board of Elections.

But a campaign spokesman said they inaccurately described the expense. It was actually for a hairdo Rice received before a televised debate, campaign spokesman Eric Phillips told WNYC.

Rice also launched her first ad of the campaign season. It's a 30-second biopic, with a man's baritone voice telling viewers, "If anyone thought Kathleen Rice would be a pushover as Long Island's first woman district attorney, they were wrong."

No one has raised that issue with Rice during the AG race -- if anything, she's been accused of being too tough on drug offenders, and not supporting a repeal of the Rockefeller Drug Law earlier. But the ad allows Rice to underscore the point that she is a woman: the only one in this race and one of the only ones running statewide for Democrats (the other is appointed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand).

State Sen. Eric Schneiderman of Manhattan ends the filing period with $2,191,966.57 on hand. He raised $263,646.92, and spent more than half of that, $182,930.85, this period. Schneiderman is not airing ads. His biggest expense in this filing was for a $22,500 "database" from Voter Activation Network.

Assemblyman Richard Brodsky of Westchester transferred $966,576.30 from his Assembly re-election campaign account into his attorney general account. That helped him end the filing period with $1,512,534.70 [figure corrected] on hand. Among his $93,961.91 in expenditures this period was a $13,023.20 poll from the Washington-based Lake Research Partners.

Former State Insurance Superintendent Eric DiNallo has $1,627,233.68 on hand, after raising $109,231.31. But he spent more than he raised: $170,496.48.

Among DiNallo's notable expenditures was $22,500 on a voter file from Smartvan NY, and $324 on Google Adwords. He's not running ads yet, but his campaign is purchasing archival video. There was a $321 purchase of "archive video" from a place called Video Monitoring Service. Another $80 was spent purchasing "archive video" from New York 1 News.

A campaign spokeswoman told WNYC they had purchased footage from the 2006 attorney general debate, for preparation. They also paid $500 for "photo permission" to Nathaniel Brooks, better known as the New York Times photographer based in Albany who has taken many memorable photographs, including this front-page image of Gov. David Paterson's troubled aide, David Johnson, which caused quite a stir.

The biggest spender in this cycle was Coffey, the attorney in private practice who is basically self-funding his campaign, and airing television ads.

Coffey, again, lent his campaign $1 million, helping him end the filing period with $3,162,032.49. He spent $824,028.22 in this period.

Coffey's expenditures include $20,462.12 on polling from Lables & Lists Inc.

But the real big expenditure --  besides the five-figure fees to consultants like the Mirram Group -- was $286,600 for television ads with GMMB (coincidentally, that's the same firm Anthony Weiner used to create some memorable ads during his 2005 mayoral race).

In Coffey's ad, black and white images of him slowly fade in and out of the screen as a narrator talks about his military record and his record as "a lawyer who took on Wall Street."

"New Yorkers don't need another politician seeking office, they need an attorney general seeking justice," the narrator says, highlighting Coffey's lack of political experience as an asset.

Public opinion polls show that none of the candidates are really known to the public. So, much of the money candidates are raising will probably be unleashed around Labor Day, when people return from vacation and realize that one of the most sought-after offices in New York State, if not the country, is up for grabs.

UDPATE: An informed reader notes that the money Coffey spent on TV ads with GMMB was for the "ad buy," since the firm purchases airtime for the ad creator working for the campaign, Jimmy Siegel.